Reading Classics

Every year I try to read at least one classic or modern classic novel. I think it is important to read really good literature, and my reasoning for picking classics as the yardstick is that they’re still around for a reason. These novels can teach us much about history and much about how to write a good, long lasting story. It is always with delight I pick up one of these novels.

This year for the A-Z challenge I was reminded of A room with a view by E.M. Forster a favourite to pick up this year. It is a beautiful written story both for its description of Florence and its surroundings and depiction of society with all its rules and restrictions. To my joy, ‘A room with a view’ was part of the Swedish book sale this year.

F - A room with a view book

I love a book with a beautiful cover

Which book is your favourite classic? Do you come back to it over and over again or is it sitting on your shelf as a lovely memory?

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19 Goals Before 2019

Last year I came across the concept of setting 18 goals to accomplish before 2018, so this year I am doing the same but of course increasing the goals to 19. I found it very helpful last year to have something to aim for towards the end of the year. This ear, there are a few large goals I want to make sure I complete, but I also took advantage of the many goals to focus on some smaller things in life that I aim to accomplish.

Recently I attended a gymnastics conference, where one of the speakers talked about as coaches we have lots of things we want to accomplish each practice/week/month etc, however outside circumstances might stop us from doing this and we should therefore divide up our goals into ‘Need to do’, ‘Nice to do’, and ‘Want to do.’ I have taken that advise and applied it to other aspects of my life too and it is from these ‘Need/Nice/Want’ that I picked my 19 goals to accomplish before 2019.

In my writing, one of the goals (or aspirations) for me was to finish yet another editing round for one of my stories. I completed the first part of this goal in early May and was very proud of finishing it early. However the second part has taken me much longer to finish, so this goes to the top of my ‘Need’ list to do before 2019.

On a happier note, I did re-write the second novel I have been working on (which was another aspiration for this year) so on my ‘Want to do’ list I aim to finish a quick read-through of the completed manuscript.

Among my personal goals, I want to read more books this term. This past summer term and summer holidays I did not read very much and many books were a slug to get through. This is something I want to do more of once autumn and winter darkness set in.

Another personal goal is to keep up with my ‘healthy me’ exercise regime of doing a 30 minute power walk every day.

Who’s joining me for this challenge? You’ll find the original post here.

19 goals before 2019

19 Goals before 2019 in my Bullet Journal

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I didn’t do as much writing this summer as I would have liked to, because once I got the time off, I decided to focus on other things in my life. This week I am therefore determined to set some new goals and make up an action plan for the months leading up to NaNoWriMo in November, when I will be writing madly again. The story idea I had planned to research over the summer and write in November, did not happen, so I will see what I can do the next two months.

The two of my novels I am currently working on are in the editing phase (still). Different types of editing. One very structural and large, one down to the nitty gritty finishing up another one of several editing rounds. Before summer it went really well and I kept up with my editing on most weeks, then summer and the sunshine came and I started lagging behind. For me whenever this happens, it is really easy to just let it go all together and I am fine with it, as long as I set a date or time when I make a deal with myself to start it up again. So this is what I have done. This is the week (tomorrow actually) when I will draw up new writing goals until November or most likely towards the end of the year.

I will also start working on my 19 goals before 2019, which was a fun exercise last year, but more on that later.

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September – FIRST

All through 2018, on the first day of the month I will publish a photograph and journal about what it means to me. This is an exercise I will do to further develop my writing.

If you have the time and inclination, you can join me in the comments below and you can find my previous FIRSTS here.

My trusty companion all summer has been this:

9. September.jpg

My Stojo coffee cup was a (requested) birthday present from my siblings this year and it is part of my effort to decrease my impact on the environment. The Stojo is convenient to throw in my handbag if I’m going out, because even if I don’t plan to go for a coffee, knowing me, I will most likely at some pint need a coffee throughout the day.

Once the school year starts again and I’m back to my more regular schedule I will most likely go back to my thermos as it keeps the heat better and I usually end up sipping on the same cup of coffee that I bring from home throughout the day.

Strangely enough, the only time I had anyone questioning me about using the Stojo in a coffee shop was at the airport in Sweden. I am usually incredible proud over what Sweden and Swedes in general do for the environment, but this young woman behind the counter at the airport did not seem to know how she could use my cup and apply it to their sizes, despite it being clearly marked inside with ml markings. I know it is a petty thing but really, it is not that difficult to size up my cup and deduce which of their sizes to charge me for, rather than using one of their throwaway cups and then pour it in to my cup.

Coffee cup tracker

In my Bullet Journal I track how many non-reusable coffee cups I use and I am quite proud over the fact that the pink line is all the cups I have used since January this year. This from someone who can drink several cups per day. Now my brother likes to remind me that coffee is not a very environmentally friendly product, so on that aspect I have quite a long way to go.

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Back to school

It has been a wonderful summer here, weather wise. I love the heat and bright sun and have enjoyed it as much as possible. On the other hand, I didn’t finish my summer bucket list. Betting on usual England weather, many of the things I wanted to do relied on bad weather forcing me inside, but with the incredible summer we’ve had, I didn’t need to do any of those things. Which is good thing!

Summer always leaves me with lots of new ideas that I want to try once the school year starts. It might be anything from new exercises to implement to inspirational podcasts I have listened to and want to try out.

This term I will try to make sure I do some kind of exercise every day. I know as a gymnastics coach I probably do more exercise than someone who sits in an office all day. However this is more an everyday ‘healthy me’ exercise, like walking 30 minutes everyday, by getting the Tube from a different stop. This is also a chance for me to catch up on podcasts and/or a mental debrief of the day. I have added a step counter to my phone which is great as it starts itself when I walk so I don’t need to remember to start it like I do with my running app. It is not as accurate, but it is good enough for me.

Now I’m off to new adventures and new challenges. How was your summer? Is it a time for relaxing or to finish all the projects you’ve started?

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August – FIRSTS

All through 2018, on the first day of the month I will publish a photograph and journal about what it means to me. This is an exercise I will do to further develop my writing.

If you have the time and inclination, you can join me in the comments below and you can find my previous FIRSTS here.

This month, before I go on holiday, I present you with this:

8. Augusti

Summer skies and blue sea

For the next month I plan to enjoy nature in many ways. I’m going back to Sweden for my brother’s wedding, and have some time off from the world. I’m looking forward to long, slow days reading and recharging.

This picture remind me of summers when I was young. Someone told me recently how the summers of your youth are always sunny and I think there is some truth to that. Not factual truth, I am sure there were plenty of days when we were cooped up inside all day. I can remember days when we were baking cinnamon buns all day, and I am sure my mum would not let us do that if it was sunny outside. But what I remember the most is my sister and I waking up every morning, watching ‘Summer TV’ (a Swedish school holiday programme, and the only time we were allowed to watch TV in the morning), packed our lunch, cycled to the beach and wouldn’t return until the evening. Then sometimes after dinner, we would cycle back down to the beach with our dad for an evening swim. Aaah, those were the days.

Have a great summer everyone, I’ll be back in the beginning of September in time for the school start.

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Medici Family

My summer holidays are often the time when I try to get some ‘fun’ research done. My university degree is in history and part of why I wanted to do history was because I love research. I love sitting in the silence of a library and read other people’s stories. Search for the reasons how we end up where we are now because what people have done in the past. I am mostly interested in people’s accumulative lives rather than big disruptive events such as wars and conquests.

During my research for the A-Z challenge I wrote about Florence and remembered that I started research on the Medici family who was from Florence and I missed reading about this influential family in this beautiful Italian city. Therefore I decided to spend this summer reading up some more on them. The Medici family had great influence on the world today, their part supporting the renaissance, their influence across Europe’s monarchies and on Florence itself.

I usually ‘reward’ myself with doing some research once I am done with my ‘must’ work during the week. These are things I have to do as a freelancer when there is no immediate boss standing behind my back pushing me to meet my deadline, otherwise it will be quite easy to drift around to the many other things I can do in the summer.

What odd things do you like to do for fun?

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What are we not doing closer to home?

I came across this question in one of the many articles I have been reading about the environment. I can’t remember who said exactly this, but in many places there are similar questions asked. It is easy to look at other places and ask them why they continue down a path that is so clearly hurting the environment. So this year I am trying to figure out what I can do closer to home when it comes to environmental thinking and change my behaviours.

My latest endeavour is to monitor my single-use plastic. I started this approach with use of plastic bags, plastic bottles and non-recyclable coffee cups and I surprised myself by how aware I became of my usage by writing down every time I used either of the three categories. Therefore I am approaching non-recyclable single use plastic the same way. Every time I throw away a warp made of plastic I write it down in my bullet journal. About a month ago I started to monitor one week’s usage (19 single-use plastic items), and at the moment I am monitoring the whole month. In September I will monitor a full year of single use plastic. I’m hoping by monitoring these things I will use less and find other solutions.

One cool thing that I have bought to help me use less single-use plastic are these cloths, they are perfect to wrap food in rather than using plastic wrap and are good for me as I often make dinner for multiple evenings at the time and go through lots of plastic wrap to keep food fresh in the fridge.

What are you doing closer to home to improve your immediate environment?

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Time to Knuckle Down

We’re almost half way through July and I have about a week left of the school year. This should technically be the time when I can start relaxing and enjoying the school holiday, however this time usually end up being my most busy time.

During the year, there are so many things I put aside for later (my someday, maybe list) and the summer holidays is the time when I am determined to get everything off that list. I need to knuckle down to get it done, no matter how much the sun is shining and how many offers of Pimm’s in the park offers I get.

It is tricky to find the balance between relaxing & having fun with friends and finish off my to do list. I try to plan for both. One summer I decided I was not going to spend any time inside catching up on work, but instead made a plan to finish them off during the autumn and winter when it is cold dark and rainy anyway. What I didn’t think of was that once the term starts, there are so many small things coming up that I didn’t have the time to start any large projects, instead I ended up feeling stressed all autumn term and not happy with myself.

I learnt from my mistake and now I try to find a balance between the two. This year I will be getting things done early, just after school finishes and then I have two weeks in Sweden, relaxing, hanging out with friends, then another two weeks when I get back when I have to make sure all my classes are up and ready to go for the new term. A perfect plan, or at least as perfect I can make it.

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Waste Management

If you have read this blog for a while, you know that I have a passion for the environment and I’m trying to make improvement to live a better, more sustainable life. Today however I will write about not actual waste and recycling but the waste who live in my computer in so many disused files. The reuse and recycling of characters and settings in my writing.

I am a hoarder of snippets of daily life, everything from a distinctive head gear I saw walking past me the other day to fragments of conversations and a funny picture in a magazine. They all end up in a large archive in my head or in the actual archive below my desk. Most of them never see the light of day again, but some are taken out every now and then to be looked at to see if there is something I can do with it. What can be tweaked to fit in somewhere else or what has been taken out too early and need to be put back to grow a bit more.

I never throw anything away from this archive. There are things in there that I am quite sure I will never use, but I can’t make myself throw it away.

Does all writers out there have an archive (physical or not) like this? And can you ever throw anything away?

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